Review Terraonion MODE : Saturn & Dreamcast Optical Disc Replacement!

hey everybody it’s lon seidman we’re taking a look today at the terra onion mode this is a optical drive emulator for both the saturn and the dreamcast you can only install it in one at a time of course so if you want to use it on both you might want to buy two and what this does is it basically emulates an optical drive but you can use flash media with it whether it’s a solid-state hard drive or a usb drive or an sd card and you can load up all your games on this device and then load them off the original hardware so if your optical drives are failing or you want to try out some homebrew games you can do that with this and what’s nice about this device especially on the saturn is that it will let you do this first of all without any modification or soldering but it will also let you play games from other regions without having to do any modifications for region locking either it’s a really slick little device that’s been working quite well and in today’s video we’re going to install it in both the dreamcast and the saturn and we’re going to look at how it works in both of these consoles so that’s the plan with this now i am live streaming this as i record it so this video might be longer than my usual ones but i’m going to put chapter markers into the video that you can find on your player as well as in the video description so you can jump to specific parts of this as we work our way through this and we’re going to get into it here in just a second but i do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure that i paid for this with my own funds so all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own nobody is paying for this review nor is anyone reviewing or approving what you’re about to see before it was uploaded so let’s get into it now and check out the terra onion mode so let’s take a closer look now at the hardware this device allows you to connect up three different storage devices and you can use two of them so

right here is your sata connector we’re going to slide a solid state drive into this in a little bit for the demo you also have the ability to use a usb drive and you could run an extension cable out of your console for example if you wanted to be able to quickly swap disk images on and off the uh the stick because it’s really hard to get at this once it’s inside the console you also have an sd card slot here for plugging that in now there’s a lot of different parts on the board here and what you use will vary based on what system you have so the saturn is going to be a little bit more complicated than the dreamcast to install you’ve got two different connectors here depending on the system the revision of the system that you’re plugging in and there’s a bunch of different power connectors here also again depending on which version of the saturn you have i found the dreamcast was super simple there is just a single connector here that this needs to get seated onto after you remove the optical drive and you’re good to go there so let’s get the saturn out of the way here for a few minutes and we will install it in my dreamcast now before i started shooting the video i did remove my optical drive already just for the sake of time so it wasn’t that hard it’s a couple of screws you pull it out and then you’ll be exactly where we are here so let’s get this set up and we’ll start with the dreamcast all right so our dreamcast as i mentioned has already been taken apart and was very easy again to get that optical drive out and all we’re going to have to do is place the mode down on this connector now they do have a great set of documentation that you can download and this will give you a step-by-step guide as to how you

get that optical drive out but again the dreamcast here really is the easiest of them all and it looks like it’ll work with any revision of the dreamcast as well you do of course want to make sure that you don’t have it plugged in when you do this because we are going to be installing hardware in our dreamcast now on mine here i did put down some of these little standoffs that it came with but i’m not going to remove the sticky stuff here because i do intend on pulling this out in a few minutes and putting it into our saturn so what i’m going to do actually before i put this together is that is install the hard drive into the sata slot here and i want to show you uh what i configured on that drive so the configuration is super simple what you need is a dreamcast folder and a saturn folder and then you can put your disk images inside of it this supports cdi and gdi disk images and you want to put those into separate folders and a lot of these games were games that i owned when the dreamcast was a thing believe it or not my dreamcast here is still working pretty well even with its optical drive but i think it’s going to work better now when i install this in there and that’s pretty much it now there’s one other file that you’ll see here this is the latest firmware update that i downloaded from their website so whenever there’s a new firmware you just have to download that and put it on the root directory of your storage device and it will find it and install the latest firmware on there and i’m guessing there’s going to be features added over time as well and one

of the things that’s really exciting about this is that there is an fpga and an expansion port on here so i think we’re going to start seeing additional features uh happening down the road all right so let’s get the hard drive detached we’re going to put it inside the card here and then we’ll boot the dreamcast up all right so now we’re going to take out our hard drive here and pop it into the sata connector and again you have a choice but i’m going to go with the sata drive here because eventually what i’ll probably do is get a large sata one terabyte drive just to leave in the console and you can probably fit a good chunk of the library there and then all we need to do is get this connector here lined up with the connector on the board and that is pretty much the entire installation it’s really that simple now normally you’d want to screw everything down and get the sticky stuff going but for our purposes right now we’re just going to get this seated and kind of move on from there i did find the standoffs to be a little difficult to work with as far as getting things to fit in the case properly but you do have to kind of coax it into place there but once it’s in it’s in and you want to make sure your hard drive is in place and again you probably want to screw that hard drive down just to keep it from moving around on you but it looks like we are good to go i’m going to put the top of the case back on and then we’re going to power the system up and see how it all works so let’s get it going all right so we’ve got the dreamcast hooked up let’s hit the power button on it and get things going i should mention i’m using this cheap pound cable just to get things captured for the video and it’s kind of a dimmer

output that i would like so it’s not the most ideal way to get your dreamcast connected my plan with these is actually to hook them back up to my crt television upstairs which is kind of the natural way to play these consoles and this is the mode interface now remember we had those dreamcast games already loaded up on that hard drive and it’s found them all here and we’re going to load up a game in a second but i wanted to do first though is go through the options screen and you might be hearing my noisy fan on the dreamcast as well because it has seen better days so right now i’ve got the game list mode in list but i could change it to cover art and they actually have a database that will be available you can download to get a much more attractive layout of these games and if you’ve used some of these flash cartridges in the past you know that they’re often limited by the power of the system they’re connected to but with the dreamcast and saturn being more advanced systems you can have a fancier interface as a result here we have the auto region patch set to on and what we’re going to do in a minute is i’ll show you a japanese game that we can load up on this american dreamcast without any modification you also have the ability to apply the auto vga patch and that’s going to be very useful for me at the moment because this pound cable basically emulates the vga adapter for the dreamcast and there were a number of games that would not work with the vga adapter attached and this will apply a patch to make them work although it’s a bit iffy as to whether or not the game will work with the patch but that’s built right into the hardware which is awesome gd rom seek time i have it set to on at the moment but i’m going to switch it off just to show you the speed of this thing because it can emulate the actual time it took for the drive to find things on the disc in case the game is very

sensitive to that timing i have the read speed of the drive set to maximum again just to get the best performance but if you’re seeing games that are not behaving properly you can adjust that here in the menu now these next two options relate to the reset button that is inside the machine here there’s actually two buttons on the card and one of those buttons is a reset button and these settings will determine what happens when those buttons are pushed you can also boot into the dreamcast bios here if you want so if you did want to get in there to manage memory and stuff you can select that option to do that and then check update will install the firmware file that we had put on the drive but since we are on the current firmware now we don’t need to do that so let’s just load up a game now and what i’m going to do here is load up propeller arena this was a game that wasn’t released it was due to be released in 2001 and then they decided not to release it after 9 11 because it involves airplanes and buildings but the game was totally done it got leaked out there at some point and somebody of course imaged it and put it up on the internet and we’re just going to let this boot up here and you can see it does seem to load up pretty quickly here versus what it might on a regular disk drive it’s still going to be a bit slow because of the i o related to the fact that this is a 20 year old system and what i’m going to do here is just get started i don’t have my memory here so we just have to start off without one but we’re going to let the game load up here and again i’m not pleased with the dull output of this pound cable so hopefully your screen will look a little better than this and we could not get the pound cable to interact with my capture hardware here either so we’re going to be a little bit dimmer than i would otherwise like so let’s just go into a quick little thing here and what i’ll do is a quick jump cut so that you can see the gameplay okay so here is the first battle and you can see it all is working great here this was a really cool game something that

i’ve really enjoyed playing even in these modern times it’s actually a really fun shooting game here you just basically go after other aircraft similar to yours and try to shoot them down and they’re coming after you as well pretty cool stuff here let me see if i can get into this behind this plane here it actually has a really cool mode when you get on somebody’s tail that you can see a pretty neat cinematic when you take them down but this is just one of the games that works this is a great example as to why you might want something like this because this game just does not exist as a physical thing that you can purchase all right here we go we got that lock on there and you can see how that works and perfect it’s working just fine all right next i want to load up an import game remember we’ve got a us dreamcast here with a japanese game now icaru one of my favorite shooters and we’re going to just hit the button here to load that up and because this will do all the region settings for us we can get that game loaded uh without the need for any kind of additional modification beyond the removal of the optical drive and the installation of the card that we just put in here and as you can see here it is loading it’s telling us it’s loading we’ve got a japanese text on screen they certainly wouldn’t sell this game in the us without english on it so here you go and it all seems to be working pretty nicely and i have noticed that it does feel a little bit snappier than my optical drive felt um both of these games were games that i were playing was playing before on optical media and it does feel like it’s it’s loading just a little bit quicker and

again i have those settings set at their maximum and if i started to notice things not working properly i could revert those settings and have it more closely emulate the drive speed of the original but as you can see here everything seems to be working great and when i hook this back up to my crt upstairs i’m going to have a very good experience i think playing both u.s and japanese titles and even european titles if i wanted to install some of those as well and there’s a lot of stuff that never made it to these shores on the dreamcast so this is one of these systems that you could really spend a lot of time exploring so now i want to take a game that doesn’t work with a vga cable and load it up using the mode because it can patch the game through its hardware to get it to work and have it ignore the fact that we have one of these adapters installed again we’ve got the pound adapter here that is converting that vga to hdmi mba showtime is the game we’re going to load up and this would never get too far like you’d get to the initial screen here and then right after the game kind of started loading it would tell you that it wasn’t compatible with the vga and as you’ll see here as it begins to load up we can get a little further than we could before with it so let’s let this load up here now typically this is about where i would get that warning message and it basically would not load until i plugged it into a crt or s video source but as you can see here we are getting into the game my only issue with nba showtime is that although i can get to the menus to start configuring my team and everything i can’t get farther than that what happens is is that it it basically locks up as it’s loading the screen for the actual gameplay so i think this is going to get fixed as they keep tweaking the firmware uh these bio these patches for vga are are sometimes a little

problematic on certain games but given that we’ve got that fpga on board i think they can probably work out individual issues for individual games as things roll forward here but as you can see we can get a lot further in nba showtime than we otherwise would all right now it’s time to move on to the sega saturn and one of the things that i realized as we started taking it apart is that i actually lucked out because i have one of the very early models of sega saturn and as a result the installation process for me because this is an early model was super simple and i was going to do a whole play-by-play as to how to get the saturn installed but because my experience is likely going to be very different than what it might be for a bulk of saturn owners out there i’m going to refer you over to tara onion’s youtube page where they do have some videos showing different saturn installation scenarios and also the manual that’s really helpful for this because i was able to get this installed with my fumbling probably in about 20 or 30 minutes or so so my experience again is not going to mirror yours but it was super easy do read the manual though because there are some things that you could potentially screw up both with your mode or with your saturn so i do really suggest you take your time and really look at what you’re doing just to be safe but again mine was easier because it is one of the early models so what i’m going to do now is get the power supply reconnected and we’re going to boot this up and see how it works all right here’s the moment of truth we’re going to hit the power button here and hopefully nothing smokes here and uh here we go looks like we are up and running i don’t have a battery installed in my saturn at the moment so we’re just going to have it be the good old days of 1994.

now as i’m live streaming here i’ve got some really helpful folks in the chat who are letting me know that the saturn menu for the mode right now is 480i but the games will be 480p so if you see some flickering on screen it’s just due to that but as you can see here the menu is loading up just like it did before it actually looks pretty similar to what it looks like on the other system and i’m just going to hit the c button here to jump into the options and you can see we’ve got a similar option for the game listing i’m going to keep the auto region patch on we’re going to try a couple japanese games in a few minutes it’s going to disable the lid switch because we do have the ability to push one of those onboard buttons to swap disks out i’ve got mine set to ntsc for the video mode if you’ve got a pal console obviously you would select something different we have those two reset options we can boot to the bios menu and then again if we had firmware to install we would do that here it looks as though when you install the firmware on one system it will apply it to the other as well so so far here so good so let me go back and let’s load up a game let me start with a little holiday cheer here let’s do christmas nights into dreams and we’ll see how it all loads up and there we go our saturn splash screen is splashing and we’ll let it come come up here and see what happens my output here is a little dim it just could be my video capture hardware that we’re using so definitely ignore that we’ll set the date and time to 96 that’s fine and let’s see what happens alright so here we go the game is up and running it loaded up without too many issues we had the fmv going at the outset here and it seems like

we’ve got the ability here to play saturn games just off of that ssd that we have installed pretty cool stuff let’s check out some other things all right so now we’re going to load up a popular title daytona usa and i’m just going to hit the button here on my controller to load it i’m just going to let this run out so you can see exactly how long things take to load especially if you have experience with these sega devices and optical media now what i have it hooked up to right now is a retro tank 2x line doubler with hd retro vision cables the hd retrovision cable i’m using is the one i was using with my sega genesis but they sell an adapter cable and it gives you a super clean image as you can see here we boosted up the gamma on my video capture hardware so it’s a little bit brighter than it was before but it just looks great and when i go back upstairs to my crt television this is going to look super crisp on that tv you can see here things load up pretty quickly and it’s working just as well as it would with optical media good stuff all right so now let’s take a look at a title from overseas i’ve got a japanese game we’re going to load up here this is the game paradise that’s what i read about i was very interested in and this is a u.s saturn but if i hit the button here we should be able to load it right up without having to solder on any modifications or do anything really it should just come up and load so i’m just going to let this run out just like it would normally in real time here so we can just see how fast the load times are and hopefully this

japanese title will start playing here on my us saturn and what’s great about this is that i’ve had this saturn for so long and i’ve been meaning to do some kind of modifications to it so i could play some more of these games and i never got around to it so the fact that uh this thing was so easy for me to install really made this a very attractive option i’m probably gonna have to buy two of these things at least buy another one uh to have one in my uh dreamcast and one in my saturn now and we’ll go ahead and start a quick game and see how this is all working but so far so good i think this is working pretty nice and you can see the real power of this because i don’t think there really has been a decent drive emulator for the saturn that was this easy to install um so i’m just really really really pleased all right so let’s let the game load up here and i i bet you this load time is significantly shorter than it normally would be otherwise cool stuff i have a cousin that speaks uh very fluent japanese so i’m gonna have to invite him over when he’s back in the country and have him translate for me but as you can see here all is good good stuff well i’m really happy here this is a great um product i think i think once again tara onion has shown us just how good they are at making very complex things easy for those of us who are not so great at soldering to get these old systems doing things that they were not doing uh just a couple of weeks ago actually so this was a really nice surprise to see this product announced really nice to finally be able to use my saturn a little bit more i just had a couple of games so i’m eager to start diving into the library especially some of the japanese titles that i’ve never played with i’ve seen a lot of youtube videos about some of the great things

on the saturn and that’s something i’m really eager to try out the one issue i would say with this is that it’s certainly not a portable product so i’ve got mine installed in the saturn right now i could you know leave the screws out and just lift the thing up and uninstall it and reinstall it someplace else but i think if you are intending to use this with both the dreamcast and the saturn you probably want to buy two just to leave them in their respective consoles but it’s nice to know you could you know move one to the other and be able to boot it up in either system and the mode here just detects what system it’s in and it just gets going there’s really nothing to configure on it i think that’s one of its greatest strengths so good stuff here from terra onion we previously looked at their mega sd cartridge for the sega genesis that also replicated a sega cd right on the cartridge so this is some really good stuff from a company that’s been cranking out some really cool things for all of these 90s consoles and we’ll have to see what they do next with this i’m really interested to see what they might do with the expansion capabilities that they built into the mode so we’ll definitely be coming back to this in the future let me know what you thought down in the comments below and until next time this is london thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the london tv supporters including gold level supporters tom albrecht chris allegretta david hochman brian parker mike patterson and bill pomerantz if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month head over to lawn dot tv support to learn more and don’t forget to subscribe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *